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Hannibal: I'm Twisted Up (When I'm Twisted With You)

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Summary: Hannibal Lecter is the new boy at Chilton's Academy for Young Gentlemen. It's clear that he's odd from the beginning, but what Hannibal didn't expect was to find a friend- and perhaps more- in fellow student and roommate Will Graham.

 


 

His reputation had proceeded him. Hannibal had gone through the same routine in his last seven boarding schools, so wasn't expecting anything differently here. The teachers were torn between being amazed at his intellect, and being fearful that he'd burn the school down with everybody inside. Hannibal had no plans to, but seeing as how it was a possibility, he decided not to think too badly of them for their fears.

Hannibal had been forced to fly commercially, his uncle having needed his private jet for business, so had arrived later than originally planned. He'd missed orientation and classes had already begun, so Hannibal was alone as he walked through the large, dark halls of Chilton's Academy for Young Gentlemen.

It was a horrid name, Hannibal mused, used by a man who thought himself better than he was; who wanted to prove to everybody at first glance that he should be respected for his intellect, his money, and his station. Seeing as how he was nothing more than a doctor with a rather large inheritance, Hannibal didn't see the need to show him any respect. He did, of course; it would be rude not to greet the Headmaster politely, with either “doctor” or “sir”. And Hannibal Lecter was anything but rude.

'Have you been shown your room?' Dr Chilton asked when Hannibal had declined coffee, tea, and soda, taking one of the plush leather chairs before Dr Chilton's large mahogany desk.

'Yes,' Hannibal inclined his head. 'I believe I'm sharing with a boy named William Graham.'

Chilton's entire face twitched, the man unable to hide even the simplest of emotions. Hannibal was intrigued; who was Will Graham to make Frederick Chilton salivate like that?

'I see, I see,' Chilton nodded and hummed, trying to appear only mildly interested. 'And you haven't met him yet?'

'No, I'm assuming he's in class with everybody else.'

Chilton nodded again and shifted through the papers on his desk. He wasn't organised, leaving everything in heaps. Hannibal would have assumed he'd have had everything prepared for Hannibal's arrival; another mark against the doctor.

'Ah, here's your schedule,' Chilton beamed, showing too many teeth. Hannibal ignored the gesture and took the paper, maroon eyes flicking over the neatly printed words.

It seemed that he had six classes a day, with two breaks, a half-hour one and one an hour and a half. The dining hall was open from six to seven-thirty am, and again open for breaks, and later dinner. The students had to be in their rooms by a specific time, those in the older years having more free time. Their weekends were completely free, but a pass was needed to leave campus and travel to the small town a few miles away.

'Now, is there anything you want to discuss, Mr Lecter?' Chilton asked, all bright eyes and shiny teeth.

He was trying too hard to be Hannibal's friend, which the teenager found distasteful; Hannibal was sixteen-years-old, Chilton in his mid-thirties. Hannibal needed a principal, not a friend. Chilton was supposed to demand respect from his students, while still being someone that they could talk to. He tried too hard.

'No,' Hannibal said, 'though I understand that I'm supposed to talk weekly with the school therapist.'

'We prefer to think of Dr Bloom as a counsellor,' Chilton replied. 'But yes, you'll speak with her once a week until she sees fit to either see you less frequently, or not at all.'

Hannibal nodded. It was understandable; he was an orphan, had had a difficult childhood, and had severe behavioural problems at all his other boarding schools. He'd be more concerned if Dr Chilton hadn't ordered therapy.

'May I go now?' Hannibal asked. 'According to my schedule I can make it to English with Mr David.'

'Of course, of course,' Chilton clapped his hands together and stood. 'I hope you find your time at Chilton's Academy for Young Gentlemen educational, Mr Lecter.'

Hannibal held back a smirk and gave Chilton a polite nod. 'I'm sure I will, Dr Chilton,' he said before leaving. He seriously doubted it.

 

{oOo}

 

Like all schools, the classroom seemed to be divided into threes; the devout, the indifferent, and the idiotic. The devout sat in the first few rows, eyes on the teacher or the white board, taking notes religiously and never once talking out of turn. The indifferent took notes, but were more interested in yawning or gazing out the windows, at their desks, some scratching at the dark wood with the ends of their pens. And, of course, there were the idiotic; those only attending such an elite school because their parents had too much money and not enough time for their children. They heckled the teacher and threw things at each other, made life difficult for those unfortunate enough to sit within their line of fire.

Those were the students who grinned at Hannibal as he entered the classroom, mouths practically salivating at the smell of fresh meat. Hannibal ignored them, and the class as a whole, and handed his late slip to the teacher, Mr David. He'd run into Dr Bloom when leaving Dr Chilton's office, and she'd wanted to “chat” before he went to class. She'd written him a slip, but Hannibal would have preferred to speak to her when he was forced to, not when she jumped him.

'Ah, yes, of course,' Mr David fiddled with his glasses, casting a suspicious eye at Hannibal. No doubt wondering if he was the devout, the indifferent, or the idiotic. His intellect would point towards the former, his behaviour the latter. Hannibal preferred to think of himself as chaotic neutral; don't push him, and he won't push back. Unless he was bored. Mr David finally cleared his throat and turned to the class. 'Class, this is Hannibal Lecter, the new student. I'm sure you'll all treat him with the respect he deserves.' The devout nodded, the indifferent just stared, and the idiotic grinned at each other. 'Hannibal, would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?'

Hannibal bit back a sigh. It was always the same, and this dance was one that he'd no doubt go through in a number of his other classes. If the teachers didn't want to alienate the new students, they shouldn't dangle them before a pack of hungry wolves.

Or dogs, in the idiotic cases.

'As you have already been told, my name is Hannibal Lecter,' Hannibal drawled, 'I was sent here by my uncle, Count Lecter, after being expelled from my boarding school in Germany.'

It had been his seventh, this one currently his eighth. Before that had been Paris, Denmark, and a brief time in Lithuania.

'I will only say this once,' Hannibal said, letting his sharp maroon eyes rove over his fellow students, 'any jokes made about my name, my accent, or anything about my person will be met with violence.' Mr David coughed, and a few students snickered. 'From personal experience I know that this won't deter the more simple-minded students currently sitting in this room,' Hannibal said. 'If that is the case, all I can say is that I did warn you, and any bodily harm you find yourself suffering from will be your own fault.'

With that said, he looked at Mr David. 'I'm going to sit down now.'

It was a statement, not a question, and Mr David could do little but nod dumbly as Hannibal moved between the rows. He took a seat near the back, far enough away from the bigger bullies to remain out of their sights for now, but not so far away that they'd think he was scared of them.

The desks all seated two, and this table was the only that housed one person. The boy was short for his age, with thick, curly brown hair, pale skin, and a fine trail of stubble across his soft face. He wore glasses that hid his eyes from view, eyes that briefly darted to Hannibal, but hid behind the dark frames.

Hannibal smiled slightly but focused on unpacking his bag. If the boy didn't want to make friends, then Hannibal certainly wasn't going to push.

The class settled after Hannibal's introduction, and soon Mr David was droning about old texts and new that the majority of the class clearly had no desire to study. Hannibal paid just enough attention to learn that he already knew the information being discussed, and then devoted his time to contemplating the meal plan at Chilton Academy. The food would no doubt be better than most fair served at your typical American high school, but Hannibal was very particular about what he put into his body. If Chilton's failed to meet his standards, he'd contact his uncle and have food flown in just for him. Uncle Robert never did mind catering to Hannibal's every whim, as long as Hannibal worked for what he had.

Hannibal was brought from his musings by the realisation that the teacher was speaking to the boy beside him. Hannibal glanced at him to see the boy fidgeting, pen tapping against his notebook, eyes darting from the teacher, to the boy sitting in front of him, and then to his notebook, gaze never staying in the same place for long.

Mr David sighed. 'Have you read the material, Will?'

Will? Hannibal thought. I wonder...

'Y-Yes,' Will stuttered, but still didn't look up.

'And?' Mr David asked.

Will opened his mouth to answer the question, but folded at the last second and slammed his teeth together, head shaking from side to side. Mr David sighed again and made a mark on the roster, no doubt a strike against Will's behaviour.

He went back to talking, the class soon moving on from snickering at Will to either pay attention or doodle in their notebooks.

'If you knew the answer,' Hannibal spoke softly, making Will jump, 'why didn't you say it?'

'I... uh... w-what makes you think I knew?' Will finally got out. His head was turned in Hannibal's direction, but his eyes were darting from Hannibal's ironed school shirt, to his tie, to his chin and back again.

'You knew,' Hannibal stated.

Will snorted lightly and looked away, once more facing the front of the room. 'If I answered,' he mumbled, 'it wouldn't make any difference. I'd be bullied for being smart, and bullied for stuttering. Better to keep quiet.'

'And earn a mark against your name,' Hannibal hummed. He could see how a teacher's annoyance would be preferable to being a target by bullies, especially for someone of Will's stature and apparent disposition. Teachers could be won over; bullies, not so much. 'Are you William Graham?' Hannibal queried.

Will jolted slightly before nodding. 'Yeah,' he said, 'and you're Hannibal Lecter.'

'Clearly,' Hannibal said in some amusement, seeing as how his name had been stated twice just after his arrival. Will also would have been informed on orientation day that Hannibal would be his new roommate.

'Did you really get expelled from your last school?' Will asked.

'Yes,' Hannibal said, 'and the one before that. The others all asked me, politely, to leave.'

'Why?' Will asked. Hannibal looked at him, and Will's eyes met his briefly before widening and darting away. 'I didn't mean to be rude,' he mumbled, 'but we're, uh...'

'Sharing a room,' Hannibal finished for him. 'Yes, I can see how knowing my temperament might help.' Will just nodded. 'I had behaviour issues,' Hannibal shared, 'particularly with anger. A few students rubbed me the wrong way, and I snapped.'

He glanced at Will, and again met the younger boy's eyes very briefly.

'Don't rub me the wrong way, Will, and we won't have a problem.'

'Okay,' Will nodded, 'seems fair.'

Hannibal offered the other boy a rare smile and, surprisingly, Will smiled back. It was hesitant, and Will clearly wasn't used to actually smiling at anyone, but it was a smile none the less.

Fascinating, Hannibal thought as he turned back to his work.

 

{oOo}

 

Hannibal and Will shared about half their classes, so Hannibal saw him more often than not. Hannibal was forced to spend his first break in the office trying to find a new copy of the textbook needed for his advanced mathematics class, and his next three classes weren't shared with Will, so they didn't see each other again until lunch.

They shared the same lunch period, and Hannibal was surprised to find himself looking forward to Will's company. Hannibal was charming, but he was odd, and he never really felt the inclination to make friends, so usually spent most of his time alone. Will, however, fascinated Hannibal; he was intelligent, kind, sensitive, and suffered just as many mental illnesses as Hannibal himself. He didn't have Hannibal's coldness, though, or his indifference, which made Hannibal want to study him. They were both alienated by their peers and their elders, but they'd both developed into very different people. Hannibal wanted to know why.

He also wanted to catch another, longer, glimpse of the darkness that lurked just behind Will Graham's eyes. Their short time together had told Hannibal that Will Graham had an excess amount of empathy; it had led to him avoiding eye contact at all costs, which had further alienated him from those his own age. He'd barely held eye contact with Hannibal, and when he did he jumped, as though he'd skimmed over the surface of Hannibal's deepest desires. Hannibal knew how dark his desires truly were, so wasn't surprised that Will would be concerned- terrified- about what he'd seen.

But what was truly interesting was the darkness that had met Hannibal's own, only briefly, but still there, buried under layers of anxiety, stutters, and avoided contact. Will Graham, the boy who could read minds and emotions, apparently finding a kindred spirit in the dark, dangerous psyche of Hannibal Lecter.

It was delicious.

Hannibal entered the dining hall and joined the rather long queue to collect his lunch. Thankfully there was a multitude of foods available, and Hannibal was able to pick chicken curry with a side salad and chips that didn't make his lips curl too much. He added a chocolate pudding to his tray and turned, eyes skimming the crowded hall.

Will was sitting alone, which wasn't surprising. Hannibal made his way quickly over to the young boy and asked, 'May I join you?' before sitting. Hannibal abhorred rude people, and would never stoop so low himself unless absolutely necessary.

Will jumped, but smiled when he realised that it was Hannibal. 'Of course,' he said and gestured to the table. It was large, made of wood with long, narrow stools instead of seats, and could seat six comfortably. Hannibal sat at the end opposite Will, and made sure to keep his eyes on his food as he laid his napkin over his lap. He had already deduced that Will did better in social situations when allowed to slowly settle into them at his own pace. Hannibal was in no hurry to dissect Will's brain, so let the other boy grow comfortable with his presence.

It was odd, Hannibal could admit. He cared little about anyone, even his uncle, who had saved him from the cold, harsh rooms of a small Lithuanian orphanage. Everybody he'd met in his life, from his fellow classmates to his teachers, even strangers, were little more than blips on Hannibal's radar. But Will Graham had somehow managed to worm his way past Hannibal's defences without trying, and all within a five hour period. Truly interesting.

'So,' Will cleared his throat, hesitated, as if unsure just why he was starting a conversation in the first place, 'how are you enjoying Chilton's so far?'

'It's as dull as every other boarding school I've been to,' Hannibal admitted. 'I find that I learn better when allowed to go at my own pace, and when allowed to study subjects that catch my interest. Cramming hundreds of boys into a few small buildings and expecting them all to learn at the same pace is ridiculous.'

'Yeah,' Will chuckled, 'the education system, huh? No wonder so many of us turn into psychopaths.'

Hannibal glanced up at the last word. 'Do you find psychopaths interesting, Will?'

'Sort of,' Will shrugged. 'Possibly because doctors have tried to diagnose me as one in the past.'

That brought an amused tilt to Hannibal's lips. 'You aren't a psychopath, Will.'

'I know,' Will snorted. 'I'm a messed up young man with too much empathy.'

'You'll learn to control it, in time,' Hannibal stated. The assurance in his voice startled Will, who met his eyes.

'You think so?' he asked.

Hannibal nodded. 'All you need is the right psychiatrist to teach you coping mechanisms that work for you. When you discover what is effective in calming you down, in pulling you out of the minds of those around you, you will be able to lead a happy, healthy life.'

Will stared at him for a moment longer, the longest eye contact he'd ever held with Hannibal, before glancing away. 'You... th-think so?' he asked again, voice softer, this time; hopeful.

'Indeed,' Hannibal replied.

Will chuckled softly and gave Hannibal an amused smile. 'Thanks, Dr Lecter.'

Hannibal laughed, and Will's eyes lit up, as though he wanted to drown in the sound. Hannibal could understand the feeling; Will's smile was like a breath of fresh air after the stagnant hallways of a cluttered house. Hannibal wondered, briefly, if he'd ever be able to truly figure out Will Graham. He'd known the boy less than a day, and already he was captivated.

'I hope to one day be a surgeon, Will,' Hannibal told him.

'Then you should get used to the title,' Will teased.

'What do you want to be?' Hannibal asked.

Will shrugged one shoulder. 'A cop, maybe, or a vet. I want to help people.'

'And animals,' Hannibal added.

'Yeah,' Will nodded. 'Animals don't judge people.'

'You mean they don't judge you,' Hannibal said.

Will's eyes met his again, but this time they were narrowed, dark. 'Are you trying to psychoanalyse me?' he demanded.

Hannibal smiled briefly. 'I'm afraid that I can't switch it off, Will. I've been around far too many psychiatrists, and I've picked up their tricks. Forgive me.'

'It's... fine,' Will said slowly, 'it's just... you wouldn't like me, if you really saw me.'

'Wouldn't I?' Hannibal queried.

Will pushed his vegetable stew around, pushing vegetables beneath the dark brown broth, as though drowning them. He finally looked up again, and Hannibal let some of the monster within out, the darkness bleeding into his eyes. He could only just hide it, but people could still sense that there was something off about him- not enough to really pry, but just enough to make them weary.

Hannibal had never allowed anybody to see the real him, not even his uncle, not even a little piece. For some reason, he wanted Will to know.

Hannibal was rewarded with the darkening of Will's eyes; not only did his pupils widen, but the light blue-grey of his irises seemed to suddenly be swamped by something else; some primal hunger that wasn't allowed in polite company.

Hannibal smirked.

Slowly, Will returned it.

Their moment- and Hannibal was sure that it was a moment, even though he wasn't sure what kind of moment- was interrupted when something slammed into the back of Will's head with a wet splat. Will's upper body was forced forward before he could right himself, and he winced when he reached back to touch his head. His hand came away covered in mashed potatoes and gravy, and Will growled as he turned to see who had thrown it. Hannibal did, too.

A group of boys- seven, all crammed onto their table- were laughing uproariously at Will's sate. One- a dark-skinned by with close-cropped hair- still had a spoon in his hand, his plate holding the remains of steak and mashed potatoes.

'Goddamn it,' Will grunted and turned back around.

'Hey, Graham!' the boy shouted. 'Who's your boyfriend?'

Will growled again but grabbed his napkin to start cleaning himself up.

'You aren't going to do anything?' Hannibal asked.

Will took a deep breath before saying, 'As much as I'd like to, it wouldn't do any good. Tobias is bigger than me, stronger, and he's got a bunch of idiots working with him. They'd throw me in the lake again.'

Hannibal had been shown the lake earlier that year, when he and his uncle had toured Chilton's before Hannibal was enrolled. It was large, filled with debris from hundreds of school boys' lunches, the water dank and sickly smelling.

'He's thrown you in?' Hannibal asked, voice hardening.

Will nodded. 'Multiple times. His friends, too.'

'Their names?' Hannibal demanded.

Will looked up, curious, but didn't comment on Hannibal's darkening face. 'Tobias Budge, Abel Gideon, and Garret Jacob Hobbs are the ring-leaders. The others are nobodys, they don't start anything if they're alone.'

Hannibal inclined his head. 'Tobias is the one who threw potatoes at you?'

Will nodded, then jumped when Hannibal stood. 'Hannibal!' he called, but Hannibal ignored him in favour of walking over to Budge's table.

The dark-skinned boy looked up at him with an evil grin, one usually found on repeat offenders. One day, and soon, Budge would find himself on the end of a lethal injection. That was if Hannibal didn't find some way to make him disappear first.

'What do you want?' Budge demanded.

'I want you to apologise for throwing potatoes at Will,' Hannibal stated. 'And I want you to promise that you won't do it again.'

Budge stared at him in disbelief briefly before laughing, his friends joining in. Hannibal just waited patiently, demeanour relaxed, face blank. 'Are you serious?' Budge snorted.

'I'm always serious,' Hannibal replied.

Budge laughed again. 'Listen, Hanni,' he started, and Hannibal's eyes narrowed. Strike one. 'Will's a little faggot.' Strike two. 'You'd better just stay away with him, alright? He's not much good.'

'Well, he makes good hunting,' a boy with short brown hair said, earning laughs from the others.

'Yeah,' Budge grinned. He turned back to Hannibal.

'You're not going to apologise to Will?' Hannibal tried one last time.

Budge's grin morphed into a twisted smirk. 'You, and Graham, can suck my dick.'

Strike three.

There was silence for one, maybe two seconds, before Hannibal reacted. He wrapped his fingers around Budge's pristine tie and pulled . Budge's face slammed into the table once, twice, three times before Hannibal let him go. Blood was gushing from Budge's broken nose and mouth, but Hannibal ignored it as he pushed Budge back, the taller boy hitting the floor with a dull thud.

Budge's friends scrambled back, shouting in surprise, and the shocked silence that had fallen upon the dining hall at Hannibal's actions erupted. Boys screamed and shouted, teachers called for order, and Hannibal straddled Budge's body. He wrapped both hands around Budge's face, and grinned when Budge's terrified eyes met his.

Hannibal squeezed, and Budge's friends tried to drag him back, but they couldn't get a grip, Hannibal wouldn't let go. Budge choked for air and his face darkened before going pale, the life draining from him slowly.

'Hannibal!'

Will's shout brought Hannibal back to himself, and it let one of Budge's friends and a teacher finally pull him free. Budge's entire body heaved as he sucked in air, the boy choking on blood as he gaped. Hannibal allowed himself to be led away, eyes down as he was dragged from the dining room. He only briefly saw Will, standing on the edge of things, eyes trained on Hannibal from behind his glasses.

Will's eyes were dark, and a smirk was twisting at his lips.

Hannibal's heart skipped a beat.

 

{oOo}

 

'I didn't think you'd still be here,' Will admitted when Hannibal found him. The older boy hummed as he joined Will on the small bench. Will was staring out at the lake he'd mentioned earlier that day, eyes roaming the pristine, mirror-like surface.

'My uncle is a wealthy, well-connected man,' Hannibal explained, 'Dr Chilton didn't want to lose him as a benefactor. I faked the proper emotions to show that I regretted my actions, and managed to leave with a warning in my permanent record, and two sessions a week with Dr Bloom.'

'She's easy to get along with,' Will told him. 'But be careful. She's good at digging.'

'I doubt that she'll be able to find what every other psychiatrist has missed.'

'You mean your psychopathy?' Will queried.

Hannibal chuckled. 'Do I fit all the indicators of a psychopath, Will?'

'No,' Will answered immediately. 'At least, not yet. You're too different to be a psychopath.'

'Indeed,' Hannibal mused.

'I feel like a chess piece,' Will admitted, drawing Hannibal's gaze, 'like the world is a chess board, and you're the person moving the pieces.'

'Why am I the game master?' Hannibal asked. 'Why don't you see me as a fellow chess piece?'

Will grinned. 'You're too smart to be a chess piece, Hannibal.'

'As are you,' Hannibal replied, making Will snort. 'What do you see yourself as?' Hannibal asked. 'What piece?'

'Some days I'm a pawn; little use,' Will admitted. 'Sometimes I'm a knight, because knights move differently to everyone else, and you've already said that you think I'm different.'

Hannibal nodded, and didn't push when Will went silent for a minute, two, before turning to look at Hannibal, blue eyes on maroon.

'Sometimes I'm a queen,' he continued. 'The most valuable piece besides the king himself, but the one everybody wants to protect.'

'I see,' Hannibal mused. 'And if you could see me as a chess piece, what would I be?'

'You'd be a rook,' Will stated with certainty. 'You're valuable, and dangerous, but you have standards and rules. Other people might not understand them, but you do have them. That makes you predictable, but only if people can work them out. And if they can, it'll probably be too late.'

Hannibal stared at him, and Will held his gaze. Something within Hannibal, something dark and primal, so full of violence and the need for blood, connected with something in Will that was similar; they weren't the same, but close enough. Close enough to understand.

'I'm not normal,' Will murmured, eyes still on Hannibal's.

'Neither am I,' Hannibal replied. 'But perhaps we can learn to pretend together.'

Will was silent, digesting Hannibal's offer. Until, suddenly, he closed the distance between them and kissed him.

His lips were chapped but warm, tongue equally so when Hannibal swiped against Will's lips, begging entrance. Will granted it and they duelled for dominance before Will let him in, let Hannibal lead.

Will tasted like darkness. And a promise.

Chapter Text

Robertus sighed softly as his nephew continued to remain silent in the seat beside him. He'd entered Dr Chilton's office with a polite greeting, only to immediately fall silent when setting eyes on his uncle.

Robertus couldn't blame the lad; sometimes, though rarely, Hannibal regressed to the mute boy that Robertus and his dear wife had found in a Lithuanian orphanage. Hannibal had made great progress since that time- too much progress, some of his therapists had commented- but every so often he fell back into his old mindset; staying quiet protected him, staying quiet meant safety.

One step forward, two steps back , Robertus mused to himself.

Dr Chilton- a rather annoying, bland man, Robertus thought- seemed to think that Robertus would blame Hannibal's behaviour on him, and was fidgeting like a child in his seat, eyes darting between the two Lecters.

'Well, uh, Dr Bloom's been telling me that your nephew has made progress,' he tried.

'Mm,' Robertus hummed. He knew without a doubt that Hannibal would not progress beyond what he already had. Hannibal was a functioning person, and would easily slip into society when he graduated and went on to do whatever he set his vast intelligence to.

But Robertus doubted that the horrors Hannibal had seen in his short life could ever be forgotten or healed. No, Hannibal was too clever. The first therapist had worked wonders, the second a little less, and the third had failed miserably. Those three had been enough for Hannibal to pick up on their tricks, on what they wanted to hear. He was easily able to deflect even the most skilled minds away from what he truly wanted to hide, and what he truly felt. No, it would take a very, very clever mind to peel back Hannibal's layers and be allowed to peak at the person beneath.

'Erm...' Chilton hesitated.

'It's quite alright, Dr Chilton,' Robertus turned a brief smile on the man, 'he gets like this, sometimes; teenagers, you know.'

Dr Chilton nodded briefly, still looking concerned and mildly terrified, but Robertus ignored him.

'Perhaps Hannibal would feel more comfortable showing me his new home,' Robertus decided and stood. It was clear that Hannibal never truly felt comfortable at any of his boarding schools, but then again he'd never been comfortable at any of Robertus' homes, either. Robertus didn't think that the boy would feel safe until he had his own house, bought from his own money; a place he could decorate and claim as his own safe haven. 'Hannibal?'

Hannibal nodded once, curtly, before standing. He wrapped a hand around the strap of his side-bag and led the way from the office, Robertus letting the door shut on Dr Chilton with a soft click.

A few teachers nodded at Robertus, having met the man when he and Hannibal had toured the school a few months ago. A few even said polite hellos to Hannibal but he, of course, ignored them all. Not one of the students, who were all making their ways around the school, classes over for the day, spoke to Hannibal, and every few actually looked his way. Those who did glanced at Hannibal only briefly before their eyes hastily darted aside, and Robertus sighed to himself each and every time. He had, of course, been informed of Hannibal's behaviour three weeks prior, which was one of the reasons for his visit. Violence on Hannibal's part was nothing new, though violence on behalf of another was certainly something that interested the older Lecter.

Hannibal had no friends; he hadn't, not once in the six years that he had lived with Robertus, ever made or mentioned a friend. That he would go out of his way to punish someone for their slight on another human being was fascinating, and the boy- Will Graham, Dr Chilton had said his name was- was someone whom Robertus would like to meet.

They walked down hallway after hallway, occasionally taking a turn here, a turn there, and not once did Hannibal stop or make any type of noise. He merely stepped around those who didn't step aside for him, not looking back, trusting his uncle to be following. Eventually they left the main building to cross the grounds, heading for one of the dormitories. Hawkins, it was named, if Robertus remembered correctly.

This building was slightly smaller, two storeys, with dark blue walls, dark-stained floorboards, and rooms on either side of the corridors. Finally Hannibal stopped at room 24, his and this Will Graham's. He knocked briefly, but when there was no answer he pushed his way inside, placing his bag at the end of one of the beds and toeing his shoes off.

Robertus did the same, respecting his nephew's personal space, and glanced around the room as he did. There were no posters, like one might expect in a room inhabited by two teenage boys. The walls were bare, a creamy-white, the ceiling the same dull colour. There were two beds either side of the room, with two small side tables in-between just before the one window, dark blue curtains framing the glass. There was a desk at the end of either bed, a bookcase sitting atop each, and on either side of the door stood a very narrow set of draws, a wardrobe crammed into each corner.

All in all, it was your typical dormitory room, far smaller than any of the rooms Hannibal occupied in Robertus' personal homes. Still, it wasn't anything that Hannibal wasn't used to by now, this being his eighth boarding school. And, Robertus hoped, his last.

'I see you and your roommate keep a tidy room,' Robertus commented. Hannibal just nodded. 'How are your studies going?' he then asked, hoping that it'd be enough to get Hannibal to speak. It wasn't, the boy simply staring at him with his strange maroon eyes. It was a trait he shared with his mother- well, had shared, seeing as how Hannibal was the last one left.

Hannibal looked a lot like his mother; his ashen hair, high cheekbones, and olive skin were all distinct traits that had belonged to Simonetta. Mischa had been all Mykolas, Robertus' late brother; honey blonde curls, light blue eyes, and pale, clear skin.

Robertus sighed slightly, a pang of grief that would never fade spearing right through his heart. He still remembered the day that he had finally been contacted by someone living in his brother's little village. He had expected to hear about Hannibal's schooling, or perhaps another baby (Hannibal had been planned, Mischa a delightful surprise).

It had been terrible news, though; Mykolas and Simonetta had died in a tragic car accident, and Hannibal and Mischa had been sent to the local orphanage, a rather horrible place, from Robertus' memory. He'd hastened to Lithuania, his lawyers working for their money as they tried to get the boy signed over to his uncle's care. Robertus had expected to find a brother and sister living with grief, their childhoods changed forever by one simple accident.

Instead he'd found a boy who hadn't spoken in over a year; almost twelve-years-old, jaunt with malnourishment, eyes dark like old blood and bruises marking his face and arms. There had been such darkness in Hannibal's eyes, a part of the boy screaming for blood and violence. Robertus hadn't known how to react; couldn't even begin to imagine what had caused such a change in the clever, bright-eyed boy he'd seen almost four years earlier.

Then he'd learned that Mischa had disappeared, her body never recovered, Hannibal left to defend only himself against the men and children who bullied all of those who resided at the orphanage. Robertus didn't doubt that Hannibal knew exactly what had happened to his sister; something had stripped his innocence, his purity, away, like a blade taken to soft, red flesh, and nothing was going to bring it back.

Hannibal certainly hadn't shared exactly what had happened with Robertus or his wife, and Robertus doubted that he'd shared with his many therapists, either. No, Mischa was a hurt that Hannibal would carry to his grave, hidden deep within the cage that had once housed a full human heart.

Robertus shook himself from his thoughts when Hannibal sat at his desk. The boy made no move to pick up a book, or start on his homework. He just continued to stare at Robertus, as though the Count were the one remaining silent, refusing to speak. Hannibal was a curious boy, had been even before he'd changed irrevocably.

'So you don't want to discuss your school work?' Robertus tried again.

He was met with a blank stare.

'Okay,' Robertus sighed. He decided to sit at the other desk, opposite Hannibal, and tried to make himself comfortable as best he could on such a flimsy piece of wood. 'You know that I'd never force you to talk if you don't want to,' Robertus continued, 'but I'd like to know that your past behaviour isn't going to make a reappearance.

Hannibal blinked slowly.

'I'll take that as a, “yes, Uncle, I'll try my hardest”, and tell Murasaki that you send your apologies and regards.'

Hannibal perked up only slightly at the mention of his aunt, a woman he'd taken to rather quickly considering his usual temperament. While Robertus was slightly jealous of the ease in which his lovely wife could connected with the boy, he was more thankful for the fact that she simply could.

'She wanted me to ask you if you've kept up your piano playing,' Robertus continued, as though he and Hannibal were having an actual conversation. 'I know for a fact that the music rooms at this school house at least three separate pianos. Too bad there isn't a harpsichord, I know how you prefer it.'

Hannibal, of course, didn't utter a word. Robertus had just resigned himself to having a one-sided conversation with his nephew for the entire trip when there was a soft knock at the door. Hannibal perked up, maroon eyes light in a way Robertus hadn't seen them since Murasaki had gifted the boy with his very first harpsichord.

Rather than ask who it was- and receive no answer- Robertus leaned back and watched as Hannibal stood to answer the door.

The boy who entered was slighter than Hannibal- shorter, too- with a thick nest of messy brown curls and blue or grey eyes hidden behind prescription glasses. His uniform was just neat enough to avoid detention, but sloppy enough to show that he cared very little for how he looked. The boy smiled brightly at Hannibal before his eyes darted to Robertus, and then away again, before settling somewhere on the perfect Windsor knot of Robertus' tie.

'Hello there,' Robertus greeted the skittish young man. 'I'm Robertus Lecter, Hannibal's uncle. You can call me Robert.' He usually went by Robert in the States and England; something about the strong, familiar name set them at ease when doing business with the Lithuanian.

'Oh, um, h-hello, Mr Robert,' the boy replied, still not making eye contact.

Before Robertus could say anything else, Hannibal finally spoke.

'This is William Graham, my roommate and friend.'

Robertus' eyebrows popped up in surprise, but Hannibal merely stared at him defiantly, as though daring him to mention his former muteness to Will. Robertus never would, he wasn't that cruel. Hannibal seemed to think that most people were, regardless of past actions.

'It's nice to meet you, William,' Robertus inclined his head at the boy.

'I, um, prefer Will,' Will murmured. He went to his bed to dispose of his bag and books, and kick his shoes off. Robertus watched him unabashedly, curious about the young boy who could make his nephew speak without even trying. Hannibal was prone to bouts of silence, but it seemed that Will hadn't experienced them himself. Which meant that Hannibal hadn't felt the need to ever retreat into his own head while spending time with Will.

Truly curious.

Hannibal re-took his seat at his desk, and turned to his uncle to begin listing off all of his classes, his assignments, and the marks he'd been getting, acting as though mere seconds ago he hadn't been staring at his uncle with lips completely sealed. Robertus let it happen, though, not wanting Hannibal to revert once more. Will seemed happy to sit on his bed, legs folded beneath him, with a large novel open across his lap, not at all bothered by not being included in Hannibal's conversation with his uncle.

That was until Hannibal dragged him into conversation, mentioning the classes that Will truly excelled in, so much so that he and Hannibal were fighting for top place in a number of them.

Will blushed and stammered his way through explanations, constantly trying to downplay his intelligence and talk up Hannibal's. A shy, reserved boy, then, with social anxieties that set him apart from his school mates. But not from Hannibal, it seemed.

Eventually Will was allowed to go back to his novel, and Robertus told Hannibal about France and Germany, about Murasaki and the various luncheons and meetings the two had shared with others in their social class. Hannibal had never been particularly bothered, nor intrigued, by the high society Robertus and his wife belonged to, but he enjoyed the finer things like opera and theatre, and had a good head for interacting with the socialites that frequented them. Robertus had no doubt that one day, when he passed and the Count title was left to his nephew, Hannibal would easily slip into the role of well-bred bachelor, able to easily navigate his way around the gold-diggers and social climbers.

Hannibal stood suddenly just after Robertus had promised that he and Murasaki were taking good care of his harpsichord, and the elder Lecter raised an eyebrow.

'It's tea time,' Hannibal explained, 'will you be accompanying me to the dining hall?'

Robertus nodded. He needed to get back to New York, had only visited Chilton's to discuss Hannibal's behaviour with his headmaster. He stood and waited, but Hannibal was moving towards Will, leaving Robertus the choice to obviously listen to their conversation or wait just outside the room.

He chose the latter, knowing how important manners were to Hannibal- and how important privacy was to teenagers in general- but couldn't help but spy and overhear Hannibal's brief conversation with young Will Graham.

'Will you be joining us?' Hannibal asked softly.

Will had looked up, and was holding eye contact with Hannibal easily. A soft smile tugged at his lips as he said, 'No, I don't feel up to the crowd.'

'Very well,' Hannibal replied, 'I shall bring you back something.'

Will huffed, but clearly knew better than to argue with Hannibal; the boy was as stubborn as he was odd, Robertus knew from experience. What truly shocked Robertus was the way Hannibal bent down to press his lips to Will's in a soft, chaste kiss that was over almost as quickly as it had started. It left Will blushing, and Hannibal looking highly pleased with himself as he exited the room, leaving Will alone. Robertus avoided Hannibal's eyes and walked with his nephew through the dormitory.

'So...' Robertus mused just after they'd stepped out into the early evening, the sun quickly fading and painting the sky with brilliant streaks of blue, purple and orange.

'Yes?' Hannibal queried.

'Will Graham seems like a fine young lad,' Robertus said. He wanted Hannibal to know, without Robertus saying it, that he approved of whatever relationship Hannibal did or would have with the other boy. Robertus knew that Hannibal would do what he wanted, regardless of what the Count thought or ordered, but he also wanted Hannibal to know that he did approve. Hannibal had gone too long without a caring adult, and in the years that he'd lived with Robertus, he still seemed to have trouble believing that he was loved.

'I see,' Hannibal mused slowly, eyes fixed on the path ahead of them. 'Thank you, Uncle.'

Robertus nodded, and let the conversation drop. He didn't doubt that he'd be meeting Will Graham again; something told him that he and Hannibal would be together for years to come. Whether that was as friends, or something else, remained to be seen, and honestly Robertus didn't care one way or the other. As long as Hannibal wasn't alone, was with someone who liked and understood him, that was all that mattered.

He wondered if he could snap a picture on his mobile of Hannibal and Will together before he left. It would make Murasaki coo for days to come.

Chapter Text

Will and Hannibal hadn't talked about their first kiss, or the subsequent ones, of which there had been plenty. Will didn't really see the need to, and he supposed that Hannibal didn't, either. It wasn't like Will wanted anyone else; actually, he'd never wanted anyone. He'd had urges like most sixteen-year-old boys, but had never felt remotely close enough to anyone to act on said urges. Most came about in the morning after a deep sleep, the usual biological reactions that happened to a lot of teenage boys.

Hannibal was different. He made Will want things, things he hadn't wanted from anyone a day in his life. Hannibal was all charm and wit, a seemingly ordinary teenager wrapped up in a neat, olive-skinned package. His cheeks looked like they could cut glass, and his eyes, such an odd, alluring shade of reddish-brown, were dark enough to swallow Will- and anyone stupid enough to stare too long- whole.

Will liked that about Hannibal, though; his oddness, his intelligence, the way he could mingle with a large group of similarly-aged boys yet be so completely, utterly different. Will was like that too, only he didn't fit in nearly as easily. Hannibal had the ability to look normal, even though he wasn't; even though, given enough time, people were able to figure out that he wasn't.

Will couldn't even look at another person, at least not in the eyes, and he couldn't help but hunch in on himself, make sure that nobody accidentally touched him, drawing his attention. It was something Will had learned over his short life; be small, and people wouldn't notice you. Be small, and people would leave you alone.

Well, for the most part. The teachers were content to leave Will be as long as he handed in his homework and didn't disrupt class. Only Dr Bloom seemed to take an interest in him, as though she hoped that her techniques could make Will a real boy. And the bullies- kids like Tobias Budge and Abel Gideon- saw Will as someone to harass for shits and giggles. Will wanted to stab them with a fork. Many forks. In the eyes.

Will sighed and glanced out the window of Dr Bloom's office. He was there for his regular session, something that Dr Bloom had insisted upon regularly ever since Will had snapped in class and tried to throw a chair at Garrett Jacob Hobbs. He hadn't been expelled, thankfully, but it had been bad enough for his father to go along with whatever Dr Bloom wanted.

'What's on your mind, Will?' Dr Bloom asked. She sounded sincere, and Will was sure that she was, but she was still a psychiatrist using the usual tricks to dig into his head. They were all the same, and at the end of the day Dr Bloom was there to make sure he didn't act out again. She and Dr Chilton also seemed to be fascinated by his and Hannibal's friendship.

Will supposed that he couldn't blame them. He'd been at Chilton's for three years, and hadn't made a single friend in that entire time. Suddenly Hannibal Lecter, a strange foreign boy, wandered in and befriended Will over two classes. And shortly after that he tried to choke Tobias Budge for throwing mashed potatoes at Will's head. Anybody would want to study that relationship.

'Will?' Dr Bloom tried again.

'My father,' Will only partially lied. 'I'm thinking about my father.' It was true, but he was mostly thinking about Hannibal and their seemingly random kisses. But he didn't want to talk to her about Hannibal. His and Hannibal's relationship was for them only.

'Your father,' Dr Bloom echoed, rather than outright ask. She wanted him to elaborate on his own, and Will had to hold back an eye roll.

'Yeah,' Will shrugged, 'just wondering if I'm going home for the holidays or staying here.'

David Graham was a self-made billionaire, having documented some of his fishing trips when Will was younger, barely out of diapers. The home-made tapes had been a hit all over the internet, and had spawned proper television productions, which had led to David creating his own brands of fishing equipment. A simple passion for fishing had snowballed into a huge, multi-million dollar company, and David had only built on his wealth since then.

They had been close, once, Will remembered. Despite his tight schedule, David had always gone out of his way to listen to his son, be there for him. He'd ignited a similar interest in fishing in a young Will, and they'd whiled away hours upon hours fishing all across America. That was before, though; before David started dating again, before his work became more important than his son.

David wasn't a bad man. He wasn't even a terrible father. He just wasn't a hands-on father, having little to do with Will's life as a whole. He made sure Will was safe and properly taken care of, but that was it. An absent father, rather than a real one, or a terrible one. A part of Will would have preferred if David was abusive; at least that way he could hate the man. Life would be simpler that way, Will felt.

'You stayed here last year,' Dr Bloom said, once again forcing Will to talk about his feelings, rather than pry the answers from him herself. Will liked her, but she could be really annoying.

'Yeah,' Will repeated. 'It wasn't too bad; quiet, and I like quiet. I got all my work done without any distractions.'

'Other things are just as important as work, Will,' Dr Bloom said. Will glanced at her, and Dr Bloom smiled softly. Will didn't return the gesture, his eyes already on her fluffy shirt. They soon moved onto the black blazer that matched her tight, knee-length skirt. Will had heard some of the other boys chattering about how sexy Dr Bloom was. Will just didn't get it.

Hannibal with his shirt off is sexier , a tiny corner of Will's mind whispered, and Will ducked his head as he felt a flush work up his neck and cheeks.

'I suppose,' he coughed, hoping that Dr Bloom couldn't see his blush. 'Cause then she'd ask about it and want to discuss it and it'd lead to discussing Hannibal . Again, it wasn't a subject Will wanted to talk about with anyone other than Hannibal himself.

'Would you like to discuss the holidays?' Dr Bloom asked when Will offered nothing else, like he had a choice. It was either his absent father, his strange relationship with an equally strange boy, or his many, many issues. The absent father was probably the lesser of Will's evils.

Will shrugged one shoulder and leaned back against the comfortable sofa, letting his eyes drift back to the window, out of which he could vaguely see part of the courtyard and the Brennan building. Classes would be over for the day soon, meaning that Will only had a few more minutes with Dr Bloom before he'd be free for another week. He wished that he could figure out how to get away for good, but he'd been seeing Dr Bloom since he'd enrolled in Chilton's Academy , so he didn't hold out much hope. Maybe Hannibal could give him some tips; he'd already managed to get Dr Bloom to drop their sessions from twice a week to once.

'It's sometimes difficult to talk about what we want, especially with the people close to us,' Dr Bloom said smoothly, as though Will hadn't been ignoring her for the most part of their allotted hour. 'But if we're brave enough, the rewards can be worth the hardship.'

Right . So if Will asked his dad to spend the entire two week holiday period together, he'd totally go for it? No deal . It'd take three separate phone calls to get through David's personal assistant to the man himself, and then he'd say that he had plans or business trips ; he'd be spending the time with his latest girlfriend, Nadia, and her two daughters, who were so well-adjusted that they made Will look like a mental patient. That or David would be travelling across America, making appearances and signing books and equipment and a boat or two. He'd gone from fisherman to celebrity, father to distant relative Will only saw every other Christmas.

'Yeah, maybe,' Will decided to say instead. Maybe that'd get Dr Bloom off his back. When he glanced at her, not meeting her eyes directly but able to see her facial features, he saw that she was smiling, apparently pleased with his progress. Will wondered how she'd managed to remain so happy and positive when she spent her days dealing with the same bullshit from teenage boys day after day, year after year. Will would have snapped his first day. 'I was, um, thinking of going into town this weekend,' he continued slowly, and Dr Bloom perked up; it was rare that Will offered information voluntarily, and he saw the woman lean forward, completely focused on Will, 'maybe have a look around, go to some stores.'

'I think that's a wonderful idea, Will,' Dr Bloom smiled at her. 'I know that Brian and Jimmy are going, too.'

Will couldn't contain his sigh. Brian Zeller and Jimmy Price were in the same year as Will and Hannibal, and the four shared the same mathematics class. They were nice enough guys, though Will thought that Zeller was a dick, most of the time, and the three had been friendly since Will had enrolled at Chilton's . They were part of the small percentage of students who didn't go out of their way to mock Will, and managed to even be friendly on the few occasions that Will socialised. The two seemed to be in awe of Hannibal, who was never far from Will's side, and the four of them often chatted away in class when they'd all completed their work. Well, Hannibal, Zeller and Price chatted, while Will was quite happy to just sit quietly and be in their presence.

'I think it would be good for you, Will,' Dr Bloom said. 'You need to socialise more, and both Brian and Jimmy have been nothing but kind to you.'

'Yeah,' Will muttered, 'um, maybe? I dunno, I'll see what happens.'

Dr Bloom leaned forward again, and Will bit the inside of his cheek to stop from glaring. He knew what was coming

'I know that you and Hannibal are good friends,' she began, 'and it's great that you two are getting along so well. But it'd also be good for you- for both of you- to make other friends.'

'Why?' Will practically snapped. 'What's wrong with either of us being the only friend the other has?'

Dr Bloom looked mildly taken aback by his attitude, but soldiered on. 'You and Hannibal would both benefit from interacting with other boys your age,' Dr Bloom said, 'and maybe even some of the girls from the all-girls school a few miles away.'

Mason Lodge was similar to Chilton's Academy in almost every way, only it was an all-girls school closer to town, and wasn't run by a complete idiot. Will had never liked Dr Chilton- the man was downright creepy, and took too much notice of Will- but he hadn't been able to talk about it until Hannibal had come along. Hannibal despised Dr Chilton just as much as Will, and they often spent their more boring classes passing notes that contained hand-drawn images of a decapitated Dr Chilton.

Will supposed that it should be faintly worrying, that he and Hannibal seemed to resort to bloody violence so easily, but he honestly didn't care. Hannibal was different, like him; dark and odd, and just not normal . So they did what they pleased, and didn't speak about it to people like Dr Bloom who'd probably separate them.

Dr Bloom was still talking, but Will only caught the end of her sentence; '… some lovely young ladies who could show you around town. I know that Hannibal hasn't been there yet, and you rarely have. It'd be fun.'

It'd be torture for someone who hated society as a whole, like Will and Hannibal both did, but Will didn't voice that thought. He just shrugged and offered Dr Bloom a shaky smile, as though he would think about it, and eventually cave in under the pressure of an adult's “good idea”. When Dr Bloom smiled and turned, their session officially over, Will rolled his eyes.

He was finally let go and practically fled down the hallway when he was out of Dr Bloom's sight. He burst out into the courtyard and walked across it, breathing in deeply and shivering as a cold wind blew through his school blazer, chilling the skin beneath a few layers. Fall was well and truly under way, winter just around the corner, and with it the Christmas holidays. Before then, though, there was the mid-term break and then a few more weeks of classes.

Will wondered if Hannibal was going home for the holidays. He'd learned that Hannibal's uncle, Robertus Lecter, owned a few properties around the globe, though he seemed to be centred in Europe, most permanently in France. Will bet that France was gorgeous, and Hannibal could probably speak French perfectly, his accent more suited to those types of languages than English. Hannibal would wander down narrow French streets, eating the local food and smiling at the people who passed, perhaps not meaning it but doing it because it was polite.

He'd be there, far away from Chilton's , were Will would no doubt be left behind. Like usual.

It wasn't anything Will wasn't used to, but it still sent a stab of longing through his chest. He had to wonder what it was like, to actually be included ; to be thought about by another person. He wondered how other people felt when their friends and family called, including them in plans because their presence was wanted. Will was only ever wanted by the strays he fed around Chilton's and during the rare weeks he was home in Baltimore, his dad's main residence.

'William.'

It was barely spoken, the boy a few feet behind Will, but Will heard it all the same. He finally had a genuine smile to offer as he back-tracked to fall into step with Hannibal, the boy making his way back from one of his many science classes.

'How was your session?' Hannibal asked.

'The same as always,' Will said.

'Bland and predictable?' Hannibal guessed.

'With a smattering of leave me the hell alone ,' Will commented, making Hannibal chuckle softly. 'How were classes?' he asked. They shared English, Spanish, Advanced Math, and Gym, all of which Hannibal excelled at. Will wasn't too shabby either, but Hannibal was clearly ahead of him in both Spanish and Gym. Will didn't have a gift for languages, and while he wasn't unhealthy, he was nowhere near Hannibal's level of fitness. The taller boy did sets of push ups, sit ups, and other exercises that Will couldn't name every morning, and every evening he went for a run around the school grounds. Coupled together with his various stretches and the careful, almost obsessive way Hannibal planned his meals, and the European was the healthiest, fittest student on campus. Will knew. He'd seen him without a shirt on.

Well, that brought a lovely blush back, and Will ducked his head.

'What are you thinking about that makes you colour so?' Hannibal asked instead of answering Will's question, amusement obvious in his accented voice.

'N-Nothing,' Will stuttered, and then cursed himself. His stutter was brought on by nerves, which was why he could barely answer a question in class without doing it. Hannibal made Will feel safe, comfortable , but Will still stuttered when he was embarrassed. Unfortunately, Hannibal seemed to love an embarrassed Will. Soon, very soon, Will would find out what embarrassed Hannibal , and the taller teen would never live it down.

'I'm sure,' Hannibal near purred, but thankfully seemed content to drop the subject. Will breathed out a soft sigh of relief that Hannibal heard- it made him smile, just slightly.

After a brief discussion, the two decided to get meals to go so they could eat near the lake, their unofficial “spot” since their first kiss. When they entered the dining hall they ran into Budge and his gang almost immediately, the lot of them giving Will filthy looks. None of them dared meet Hannibal's gaze, though; well, none of them except Budge.

The dark-skinned boy practically radiated violence as he and Hannibal passed each other, but Budge wasn't an idiot; he knew that Hannibal was the bigger predator, better than Budge in every way, and while a bully-borderline-psychopath, Budge did like living. He wasn't about to start anything with Hannibal, not after their first confrontation.

It made Will smirk, and the gesture didn't drop, not even when Budge looked his way. Budge's eyes widened in surprise, before narrowing, Will practically hearing the, Well, what do we have here? that Budge hadn't voiced. Will wasn't quite sure what he was, either. A predator, definitely, but not like Hannibal, not even like Budge. Just dangerous in ways that hadn't been revealed yet; Will had yet to be poked in just the right manner.

Hannibal seemed pleased when the entire exchange- barely ten, twelve seconds- passed, as though excited by the prospect of Will finally growing a backbone, or perhaps giving into that darkness that each boy glimpsed in the other. Something in Will purred at the very idea, but he wasn't sure what it was. In time, he supposed that he'd find out; Hannibal clearly had a good grasp on his own monster. Maybe he'd bring Will's out, too.

Soon they were sitting by the lake on a plaid blanket that Hannibal had unfolded from his messenger bag, their dinner- food that could be eaten by hand- spread before them. Well, Will's dinner could be eaten by hand; fish and chips that usually needed a fork, but Will didn't mind getting his fingers dirty. Hannibal, on the other hand, had gotten salad and soup, and had stolen a fork and spoon from the dining hall before they left. Because god forbid Hannibal Lecter touched food with his bare hands. The world would end!

Will snickered to himself and ignored Hannibal's narrowed eyes; he didn't doubt that Hannibal knew exactly what Will found so amusing.

They mostly ate in silence, staring across the lake and at the still light sky, occasional thoughts being passed between them, sometimes even answers to homework problems. When they were done Hannibal laid on his back, one arm behind his head to prop it up, and Will made himself comfortable at the older boy's side, curled with his head on Hannibal's firm stomach. He sighed when strong, olive-tinted fingers stroked through his hair, twisting the strands like Will was an instrument that Hannibal had mastered.

They had fallen into their friendship- or whatever their relationship was, exactly- so quickly and so easily, that Will was half-convinced that they'd met in another life. Not that he necessarily believed in reincarnation or anything, but Will had never gotten along with someone this well, and this quickly, in his life.

Hannibal started scratching at Will's scalp, and Will hummed, arched his back, and heard Hannibal chuckle.

'I'm not a cat,' he mumbled, eyes sliding closed as he finally relaxed after a stressful day of school and sessions.

'You're remarkably similar to one,' Hannibal replied like he always did. If anything, Hannibal was the feline; with his pristine clothes, ever clean person, and gracefulness. He resembled a cat more thoroughly than Will ever would. Or maybe a tiger. A lion?

'Are you a tiger or a lion?' Will asked. Hannibal's hand momentarily paused in Will's hair. 'Or maybe a panther,' Will murmured.

'Why are you comparing me to large cats?' Hannibal questioned.

''Cause you're like one,' Will replied.

He could hear Hannibal's smile when he said, 'Am I now?'

'Yup.'

'I see,' Hannibal mused, 'and nothing I say will change your opinion?'

'Nope,' Will replied. Hannibal chuckled. 'So, come on,' Will continued, tapping Hannibal's thigh with one hand, 'lion or tiger or panther?'

'Or leopard or cheetah or lynx,' Hannibal retorted.

'Smart ass.'

'Rude, Will,' Hannibal deplored, tugging gently at Will's hair. Will chuckled against Hannibal's belly. 'Which do you think I'm more like?' Hannibal questioned. 'Am I the lion in the room, or the panther hiding in the foliage?'

'Hmm...' Will hummed, giving the question some serious thought. 'Lion,' he decided.

'Oh?'

'Mm,' Will nodded, careful not to jostle Hannibal's full stomach too much. ''Cause you're clearly the king of whatever jungle you wander into. You're strong enough to hunt on your own, but clever enough to live in a pride.'

'Than perhaps that makes me a chameleon,' Hannibal suggested.

Will laughed and rolled over, eyes immediately meeting Hannibal's. It was rare that he couldn't maintain eye contact with Hannibal. Something just always, always drew him in, the soft maroon seeming to grow brighter, redder, the longer Will looked. 'What animal am I?' he decided to ask.

Hannibal tilted his head as he thought, his hand resuming its pace through Will's curls. 'Mongoose,' he eventually said. Will raised his eyebrows.

'Really?'

'Indeed,' Hannibal nodded. 'You're the mongoose I want under the house when the snakes slither by.'

Will burst into a fit of giggles, which made Hannibal smile at him, eyes warm as Will slowly got himself under control. 'What does that even mean ?'

'Don't be obtuse, dear Will,' Hannibal tutted. 'I know you're doing it on purpose.'

'Okay,' Will agreed easily. He laid back down, still smiling. 'Who are the snakes I'm protecting you from, Dr Lecter?'

Hannibal answered Will's smile with a small one of his own, one that was always brought out to play when Will called him Dr Lecter. 'The snakes,' Hannibal said, 'are those who don't understand me; those dangerous enough to do something about me.'

'Can't have that,' Will said. 'I'll protect you.'

'And I you,' Hannibal replied. He shifted down, pushing Will off of his stomach with a gentle twist of his hand. He was soon laying by Will's side, eyes meeting directly, legs tangling atop the soft plaid blanket. When Hannibal leaned forward, Will met him halfway, as always Hannibal's thin lips soft, only slightly chapped. He tasted faintly like the salad he'd eaten after his soup, the dressing still slightly tangy on his tongue.

Will hummed at the taste, and felt Hannibal smile before he leaned forward, easily pushing Will onto his back. Hannibal hovered over him, but Will pulled him down, wanting to feel Hannibal's weight on his chest. Like always, Hannibal let himself be manoeuvred. He was a very controlled person, Will had known that even before their first conversation. But he always made allowances for Will; like with Will, Hannibal didn't mind giving up part of his control.

It made Will feel wanted, needed, powerful. Like maybe, for just a short time, he was a lion, too.

Chapter Text

Hannibal got dressed a lot. He always dressed in pyjamas that matched- usually light blue pants and a button-down shirt with dark blue trimming- and when he got up to do his morning exercises he changed into sweats and a t-shirt, or sweats and shorts. Shorts when he stayed inside, doing push-ups and sit-ups; sweats when he went jogging around Chilton's grounds.

He'd come back into their room and collect his school uniform or the casual clothes he wore on weekends- trousers and a button-down shirt, never jeans (Will wasn't sure Hannibal actually owned jeans)- and then head off to the showers at the end of their floor. When he got back he'd always be half-dressed, either with his shirt hanging open and a towel around his waist, or his trousers on minus the shirt.

At the end of the day Hannibal and Will sat on one of their beds- usually Will's because Hannibal didn't like messing his up- and they'd kiss for a bit before they broke apart to do their homework. Then Hannibal would change into his pyjamas, he and Will would climb into bed, and they'd cuddle before falling asleep.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Will wasn't... he didn't... was he allowed to look at Hannibal? Will's past room-mates had made it very, very clear that Will's staring unnerved them. Or downright pissed them off. It wasn't that Will had looked at them on purpose, at least not when they were changing. Will had never wanted anyone the way he wanted Hannibal, so he'd never been actively looking at boys getting naked. Nobody else believed him.

Will wanted to look at Hannibal. He loved the way Hannibal went about his exercise routine, stretching to warm up, getting right down to business with absolutely zero distractions, working up a light sweat that made his olive skin glisten in the crappy lighting of their dorm-room.

Hannibal wasn't overly muscular. He was lean, wiry; his muscles well defined beneath his smooth skin, and Will always caught faint signs of what could be a four-pack when Hannibal stretched or bent a certain way. Hannibal didn't have that much body hair- at least not that Will had seen- but it was more than Will had. Will seemed to only be able to grow hair on his face, whereas Hannibal didn't shave all that often.

Hannibal's chest was sprinkled with a fine dusting of hair a bit darker than the strands on his head; brown, rather than a mix of blonde and brown. The fine hairs on his legs and arms were darker, too, and Will often caught himself staring just because. Sometimes it wasn't even sexual; Will just liked looking.

He wondered if Hannibal knew. Hannibal was one of the most observant people Will knew. He could read body language almost as well as Will could, and he was very good at knowing the whys behind people's actions, and what they were thinking, because of his years spent in various therapists' offices.

Will's staring wasn't exactly... subtle. He always woke to either find Hannibal doing sit-ups, or Hannibal just returning from a long run. Will wasn't at his peak early in the morning so he tended to just sit in bed and stare, sleep-muddled eyes taking in Hannibal's long, lean body as the older boy stripped or checked over something or made his bed. Hannibal had often turned from where he'd been packing his bag, his blazer hanging over the back of his seat, to find Will watching. Will liked watching Hannibal dress almost as much as he liked watching Hannibal get naked. Hannibal always looked good in a tie and blazer, and Will wondered how gorgeous the European would be in a suit complete with a vest.

If Hannibal did know, than he hadn't said anything to Will. He smiled sometimes, in that gentle, barely-there way he had; his eyes softened, too. He'd put his blazer on, pick up his bag, and hold a hand out for Will, who of course had to scramble to make sure he had everything before they left their room.

They ate breakfast and lunch in the dining hall; sometimes dinner, too, if it was raining or they wanted to get back to their room early. Sometimes Dr Bloom “suggested” that they eat with the other boys. Because how could they make new friends if they avoided the other students? Will didn't want to make new friends. Neither did Hannibal. Hannibal got really angry when Dr Bloom suggested that they needed friends other than each other. Will let it all drift over his head. He didn't care what Dr Bloom said; Hannibal was all he needed.

Hannibal always sat opposite him in the lunch hall, at the table that had been designated “theirs” ever since Hannibal had tried to strangle Tobias Budge. Everybody stayed away from Hannibal, and for the most part they stayed away from Will, too.

For the most part.

Hannibal ate like he was a food critic, and it made Will laugh into his hand, which made Hannibal scowl at him, which just made Will laugh that much more. Hannibal had to learn to pick his battles; Will would never not find Hannibal's finickiness funny.

Will always wondered if Hannibal cooked himself. When they sat eating the okay food Chilton's offered- and really, Will had had worse, so he wasn't about to complain- and Hannibal picked at his meal and bemoaned the poor products, Will wondered if Hannibal ever wandered into the kitchen at the house he lived in with his aunt and uncle. Will knew that it was in France, but not where exactly. He knew that Hannibal spoke French and often daydreamed about hearing Hannibal speak the language fluently, ordering dishes that Will couldn't pronounce, feeding them to Will as they sat in whatever large, decadent bedroom Hannibal called his.

Hannibal had nice fingers, Will mused that morning at breakfast, watching Hannibal pick apart a scone and various pieces of fruit with his knife and fork. They were long, thin... delicate, was the word that came to mind the most. Precise and sure, never wavering, never failing Hannibal in whatever task he wanted to complete. Hannibal wanted to be a surgeon. Will thought he'd be a good surgeon.

In the classes they shared they sat together, side-by-side, each working quietly and efficiently. That was if Hannibal wasn't bored and decided to whisper to Will, mocking the teacher and students around them. Will always bit his lips to avoid laughing. Hannibal had better control than him, but he always looked amused when Will started reading the students around them, sharing secrets that the boys wouldn't want known. Will knew that Hannibal wasn't the type to spread rumours. He'd hoard the information away to possibly use to his advantage at a later date.

Whenever they sat together their shoulders touched, and sometimes, though rarely, Hannibal would nudge their feet together, or even tangle their legs. Will liked those lessons. He didn't get much work done, but he liked them all the same.

When they didn't sit together it was because they had different classes that period. Or they were in Spanish. Will had been moved to the front of the class and he couldn't see Hannibal, who sat two rows back. It annoyed him and made him scowl at Mrs Horn whenever she asked him to answer a question. Will was okay at Spanish, but not great. Hannibal was slowly teaching him French and Will was better at that. He'd been born in New Orleans and had begun learning French before he and his dad started moving around a lot.

Will wondered if Hannibal watched him; if he found Will interesting or fascinating. He said it often enough; commented on Will's eyes and hair and lips. And his neck. Hannibal liked Will's neck. Sometimes he'd run his tongue or nose over the smooth, pale skin; he sniffed sometimes, and Will knew it was because he had a very, very sharp nose; he knew because Hannibal despised the deodorant that Will's dad sent him every year for his birthday.

When Spanish was over, Will waited by his desk for Hannibal. The other boys bustled past him, and Patrick Moylan, one of the guys who hung on the outer edges of Tobias Budge's circle, always shoved past Will. He did it when Hannibal was still packing up his stuff, because everybody knew that Hannibal took the time to methodically put his things away. Will never bothered mentioning Patrick's behaviour, because he knew it'd piss Hannibal off. And if Hannibal was pissed off he'd go after Patrick and get in trouble. He might get expelled, and Will didn't want to lose him.

Plus, Hannibal always smiled at Will when he looked up. When he fell into step beside Will again, the two leaving Spanish, Hannibal would mutter about how rude Mrs Horn was and how much he hated the boys who sat at the desk between his and Will's. Because it meant that he couldn't talk to Will during class or look at him properly.

Maybe Hannibal stared at Will, too.

Will didn't mention Patrick Moylan because Hannibal was almost always in a good mood after Spanish and Will liked it.

Lunch and afternoon classes passed, and then they went into the dining hall for dinner. They'd decided to eat outside again so Hannibal collected their food while Will raced back to their room to grab the plaid blanket they used. On the way back Tobias Budge glared at him, Abel Gideon snickered, and Patrick Moylan and his own little hanger-on, Michael McCauley, jeered at him. They all shoved him and generally acted like animals trying to assert their dominance.

Will glowered at them and his fingers tightened around the blanket he was carrying, his arms practically shaking from how hard he was clenching his fists. He wanted to scream at them- Tobias wanted to fuck his cousin, Gideon wanted to cut Tobias open, Michael sucked Patrick's dick after soccer practise, and Patrick had kinky gay porn on his computer...

But he didn't. Because then they'd hit him and one of three things would happen; 1) Will would get beat up, 2) Will would get beat up, Hannibal would find out, and Hannibal would kill all of them, or 3) Will would kill them himself.

Will had anger problems, he knew it. It was why he saw Dr Bloom all the time. Sometimes Will just snapped and... hurt people. He didn't black-out, like he told Dr Bloom. He pretended that he was sorry and he hadn't meant it and that he really couldn't remember. Sometimes they put him on drugs that he didn't take and he pretended that they worked.

They didn't. Will remembered and enjoyed every moment of violence, every time he'd leapt from his seat and tossed his table over because the teacher had pushed him too far. He remembered his last boarding school, when one of the guys had pushed Will to his knees and threatened to... well, Will had smashed his face into the bathroom sink. Will had been expelled after that.

'What's wrong, Graham?' Budge taunted. 'Where's your boyfriend?'

Hannibal wasn't his boyfriend. At least, Will didn't think he was. They kissed but that was all. They hadn't discussed it. Will didn't see the need to.

'Leave me alone, Tobias,' Will said and tried to step around them.

Budge, of course, didn't let him. He shoved Will back against the corridor wall, dark eyes narrowed as he got into Will's face. Gideon stepped closer, too, but Patrick and Michael stayed where they were. They were grinning, though, enjoying themselves; it made Will's blood boil.

'Where's your boyfriend?' Budge repeated, leering at Will. 'You're usually joined at the hip. Or at the ass. You let him fuck you, Graham?'

That little part of Will started ticking like a counter; it ticked down from some random number, because Will always snapped at different times. Sometimes he could walk away...

'I bet you suck his dick,' Patrick piped in, and Michael shifted uneasily beside him but tried to look unaffected.

Tick, tick, tick, tick .

'You're his little bitch, right?' Budge taunted. 'I mean, what else would you be good for, Graham? You're nothing but a little pussy. And now you hide behind Lecter, acting all tough. Well guess that?'

Tick, tick.

'You're a faggot,' Budge snarled. There was a monster in his eyes, but it was small, so very small when compared to Hannibal.

When compared to Will.

'I can't wait 'til break,' Budge continued. 'Lecter'll piss off to whatever fancy house he lives in, and you'll be ours.'

Tick.

'We'll have some fun, Will,' Gideon smirked and licked his lips.

… sometimes Will snapped.

He dropped his plaid blanket and got into Budge's face, so close they could kiss. The thought made Will's stomach turn and his anger turned from a frothing, roiling red to a deep dark black. Budge jerked back but Will grabbed his arms, his fingers digging in tightly.

'You're nothing but a little fish swimming with sharks, Tobias,' Will hissed. 'You and your little posse will end up in prison one day and you'll be some Nazi's fuck toy. But I bet you'd like that, wouldn't you?'

Budge growled but Will wasn't done.

'But maybe not,' Will said and let his anger roll over into his eyes. A satisfied smirk twisted at his lips when Budge and Gideon both flinched back. Patrick and Michael stumbled.

'Maybe,' Will continued after a beat, 'I'll sneak into the dining hall at night. I'll take their biggest knife and then I'll break into your dorm-room. I'll stand over your bed while you dream about fucking your cousin. Then I'll jump you and cut until you're nothing but a sack of stinking meat. I'll gouge your eyeballs out and I'll cut your dick off and feed it to Gideon. I'll do the same to him, and when the cops come I'll laugh. I'll laugh, Tobias, because if I go to prison I'll fuck them up, too. I'll kill you and everybody who pisses me off because guess what?'

He pushed that bit closer and could smell the fear pouring off of Budge. Budge was all talk and no action. One day, maybe, he'd give in and do something unforgivable. But even if he did, he was nothing.

'I'd enjoy it,' Will whispered.

Budge finally broke free and pushed Will into the wall. Will laughed as his bag thudded heavily against the plaster, sending a dull ache through his shoulder. He laughed harder when Gideon met his eyes uneasily and when Patrick and Michael tried to duck down, make themselves smaller.

'Will?'

Will turned to see Hannibal standing at the top of the stairs, two trays of food in his hands. He looked ready to drop them, or use them as weapons; his eyes were narrowed and his body poised, ready to act at the first sign of trouble.

Faced with both Hannibal and Will- and Will knew that the boys standing opposite him were terrified of Hannibal Lecter- Budge and his friends departed, some shooting Will scared looks, but the majority just scuttling away before Hannibal could hurt them.

Or before Will could.

Will breathed out heavily and Hannibal was almost immediately at his side. 'Are you alright, Will?'

'I'm fine,' Will muttered.

'They were bullying you again,' Hannibal said, his voice hard.

Will just nodded; Hannibal already knew, it wasn't that hard to figure out, and he'd just get upset if Will lied to him.

'I should teach them some manners,' Hannibal murmured.

Will looked up to see the older boy staring at the stairs, as though contemplating going after Budge and his gang. 'Like you did your first day?' Will asked.

Hannibal looked at him quickly, eyes sharp, and Will smirked. He wondered if Hannibal could see that... that thing that lived in Will; that part of him that screamed in anger, that wanted to rip and tear and make things bleed. It had been there as long as Will's empathy; tormenting him and wanting him to act out the violent things his disorder picked up on. It wanted to act on Gideon's fantasies. It wanted to feed on the darkness in Hannibal's eyes. It wanted to find what Hannibal was hiding, deep inside his chest, that sometimes made Hannibal look so twisted and monstrous.

Hannibal's eyes flashed with an emotion Will couldn't place, though it looked like a deep-seated satisfaction. Hannibal nodded his head at the stairs and said, 'Shall we?' and Will nodded in return before picking up the blanket he'd dropped.

Just like that they were moving on, heading to the murky lake where they spent a lot of their time. It smelled a bit, sometimes, especially when it had been raining, but Hannibal never complained so Will didn't bring it up.

Will spread the blanket out and Hannibal passed him his tray. Lasagne, a bread roll, salad and a bottle of Coke. Will smiled and leaned over to peck Hannibal on the cheek in thanks, and just because he could. Hannibal smiled at him.

They ate in silence and Will enjoyed it. He knew Hannibal did, too, because the tightness that had appeared around his eyes when he'd found Will cornered by Tobias Budge was gone, replaced with smooth, olive skin.

When they finished their meal Will crossed his legs and Hannibal laid down, his head in Will's lap. It was usually the other way around but Will enjoyed the change. He threaded his fingers through Hannibal's hair, listening to the older boy practically purr as Will played with the soft, ashen strands.

When Hannibal closed his eyes Will let himself look. Hannibal had an interesting face. He wasn't conventionally attractive, not like Patrick Moylan and the other soccer players. His cheekbones were sharp and his brow dominant, his eyebrows barely-there. His lips were thin and a dark maroon colour, different to the plush pink of Will's own. Will liked his nose and his jaw because both were strong, and his eyes were red like dried blood.

Will trailed his fingers down Hannibal's forehead and across his brow, smiling when Hannibal raised an eyebrow but made no comment. Next he touched Hannibal's nose, then grazed a nail across one of those cheekbones. Will wanted to kiss it but he didn't, he saved that for later.

Next he explored Hannibal's jaw and neck. He could feel the very slight rasp of stubble against his skin; Hannibal hadn't shaved in two or so days. Will wondered what Hannibal looked like with facial hair.

Finally he trailed his index finger along Hannibal's chin, then up to his thin lips. After he'd touched both he bent down as best he could to try and kiss Hannibal. But he couldn't quite get it and made a soft noise of annoyance. When he pulled back Hannibal's eyes were open, the colour bleeding into a darker red. He looked amused, though, and he pushed himself up on one elbow.

Their lips met and Will savoured the touch, the warmth, the slight wetness when Hannibal swiped his tongue along Will's lips. It made Will's heart skip a beat and his stomach feel warm and pleasant. Hannibal tasted like the sharp vinegar of his salad and Will licked into the older boy's, chasing the taste, trying to get rid of it so that only Hannibal remained.

When they finally broke apart for air they stared at each other, Will's blue-grey eyes now hooded to match Hannibal's. Hannibal hummed and tilted his head.

'I like it when you watch me, Will,' he said.

Will felt himself flush. 'O-Oh...'

Hannibal smiled. 'I was aware of you watching me, yes,' he nodded. 'And I enjoy it.'

'Oh,' Will repeated, 'okay.'

Hannibal leaned forward again, lips brushing Will's. 'I watch you, too,' he whispered, like it was a secret.

Will's eyes widened- fantasies of Hannibal watching him sleep, watching him eat, watching him in class and watching him get dressed flashed through his head- but before Will could say a word Hannibal was lying back down, eyes closed, head nestled in Will's lap.

He reached up after a beat to twine his fingers with Will's, and Will squeezed his friend's digits when he came back to himself.

Hannibal was still smiling and Will watched him, his own smile on his lips.

Chapter Text

When Hannibal Lecter was eleven, he lost everything. A year prior he had lost his parents in a car crash. To say that Hannibal had been devastated would be a gross overstatement. While Hannibal had cared for his parents, there had been no love there. Even at a young age Hannibal had been aware of his... differences. He had just never broadcast them. Even Mischa, who had become everything (only to be snatched away), had been met in the beginning with indifference. Hannibal had often fantasised, at the age of eight, of setting his baby sister on a windowsill, to watch as some large bird of prey carried her away.

Despite his indifference, Hannibal had felt compelled to love the small baby his parents had brought back from the hospital. It was when Mischa was two that Hannibal really took an interest in her. She had been... slow, is the word Hannibal would had used; she had acted younger than her age, hadn't been able to read even the simplest of words, unable to even correctly say Hannibal's name, always favouring the nickname, “Anniba”.

Now, at the age of sixteen, Hannibal realised that not all children were like him; they didn't have his intelligence, his cleverness, his ability to pick up so many things so easily. Mischa, unlike Hannibal, had been a normal child; a perfectly normal little girl with feelings.

It was Hannibal who was different. Not Mischa.

At the age of nine, when Mischa was almost two, Hannibal had found joy in her trailing him everywhere. He had shown her art, had taught her how to draw (however crudely her pictures ended up), and had studiously given her tours of Lecter Castle and the surrounding grounds.

When they lost their parents suddenly, had been thrust into a small orphanage miles from the Castle they had grown up in, Mischa had become Hannibal's world. He wasn't sure why, not even now. Perhaps Hannibal had simply seen it as his duty; his father was dead, it was now Hannibal's job to protect, raise, and nurture Mischa. Or, maybe, Hannibal did have real human emotions; maybe Mischa had been the only person who could elicit such a response from the future Count.

Until Will Graham, of course.

Hannibal didn't often think of his sister; he thought even less of his deceased parents. But the agonising three weeks Hannibal had spent thinking that he was dying, only to watch his sister die and then later be found, cared for, and nursed back to health himself... those were memories that Hannibal had had difficulty recalling, in the beginning. He hadn't remembered until he was older, thirteen, the trauma brought back in sharp clarity by an equally traumatic experience.

Well... Hannibal didn't honestly consider the murder of a local butcher traumatic, even though he was the person preforming said murder.

His aunt, Lady Murasaki, likened that day to the time when Hannibal had truly lost his soul and whatever inside him worth loving. She still cared; Hannibal could read that clearly. But their once loving relationship was now strained in their eyes and those of Chiyoh, Lady Muraski's personal student. Uncle Robertus was as blind as ever to the true workings of his nephew's mind, unable to see what had happened that day.

Hannibal had every image, every scent, every feeling tucked away in a large corridor in his mind palace. Though still being built, still being crafted, Hannibal's mind palace was a work of art. Hannibal stored everything there, even the memories of his sister's death.

Paul the butcher had been a terrible man; rude, crude, with a penchant for drink and loose women whose services were bought. Hannibal had been aware of the man for a year before he killed him. Paul had often muttered around Hannibal, his uncle, and Lady Murasaki. One day those mutterings had been aloud and Hannibal had... snapped, was the appropriate word. It had taken Lady Murasaki, Paul's brother, and a local police officer to pry the two apart.

When Hannibal was set on his arse, his breathing laboured and flecks of Paul's skin and blood beneath his fingers, he had remembered-

Anything- anything even remotely human, remotely redeemable - was lost in the memories of blue eyes, of a wooden soup bowl, of a large metal tub his sister had been crammed into-

When Hannibal had come back to himself at the police station, he hadn't been the same boy who had left the house only four hours earlier. No, because with Hannibal's memories came monsters, and Hannibal could not- would not- push them away again. He had been weak at eleven, unable to deal with what he had seen, unable to live with his failure, his inability to protect Mischa, his little sister.

At thirteen Hannibal had been anything but weak. He had been small, he had been untrained... but he was a monster.

And so the following day, and the day after, and the few days following that, Hannibal had stalked Paul the butcher. He watched Paul fish in a small creek, made sure he was never followed, took the old sword hidden in the attic, the sword Murasaki had once shown him when they were folding paper cranes-

He took the sword. He lured Paul into the woods. He sliced him open, watched his guts fall out, and sliced his head off for good measure-

Hannibal had felt a lot of things after that; pleasure, satisfaction, pride... the monsters had slumbered during Hannibal's early years, had been made to fall deaf when Mischa was killed. Now, with Paul's death, Hannibal was... alive-

The police were called. The head couldn't be found. Lady Murasaki caught Hannibal returning the blade, blood still soaked into the cloth he had used to clean it. Words were not exchanged. Murasaki had stared at her nephew, and had proclaimed him broken -

A part of Hannibal had wondered if he would have to kill Murasaki to keep his secret. It was a ridiculous notion, of course; the police would have come straight for him. And Hannibal would have missed his aunt and their lessons, their easy relationship, their... love, for lack of a better word. Hannibal would have felt guilt over her murder, guilt he hadn't felt when he sliced into Paul-

But Murasaki didn't turn him in. She gave him an alibi and the police looked elsewhere. For now, and hopefully forever, Paul's murder would remain a cold case-

The damage was done. No longer did Muraski truly love Hannibal, for he was a monster unable to love, so he did not need her feelings. They were still close in an odd way, able to have conversations and spend time together. But there was a cautiousness now, Murasaki forever weary when in his presence. For Hannibal was a killer with no guilt, and though he would dislike it, he would kill Lady Murasaki if he had to. She knew it and so did he.

Yet their charade continued.

Hannibal pondered all of this in his dormitory room. At his side Will was asleep, a book still open on his lap. Will favoured thrillers for some reason. Hannibal found them dull.

His head was propped in Hannibal's lap, curls brushing against Hannibal's jumper. Hannibal tilted his head as he carded his fingers through Will's hair, enjoying the way the strands bounced back when he tugged gently.

Will was unlike anyone Hannibal had ever met. He was Mischa and Muraski, yet so much more. Mischa... she would always own a corridor in Hannibal's mind, a place both bitter and sweet. She had been his sister, his everything, and Hannibal had failed to protect her.

Murasaki was the person who had brought Hannibal back... partially, at least. She had reignited his passion for art and music, his love of fine food and comfortable silence. But she couldn't, or wouldn't, understand what Hannibal had become. She would always be on the outside looking in, because Murasaki was normal.

Will... he wasn't normal, not in the slightest. He was like Hannibal yet not; dark, dangerous, with a thirst for pain that was not his own. Will had not truly let that darkness free, not to the extent that Hannibal had. He would, one day. Hannibal would help him.

He stroked Will's hair again, heard Will grumble under his breath but sleep on. Will was Hannibal's everything now. Possessive, yes, but Hannibal had never pretended to be anything but, not with himself. He would kill for Will. He would do anything for Will. He would even kill Will, if the younger boy asked. Why he would didn't factor into Hannibal's thoughts. He just knew that if Will asked, Hannibal would slit his throat, watch the blood bleed from his neck, watch the light drain from those beautifully dark, stormy eyes.

And afterwards, Hannibal would either follow him, or go out in a blaze of glory. The final decision would depend on the manner of Will's demanding his life end at Hannibal's hands, of course.

Hannibal hummed Chopin's Nocturne No. 2 as he petted Will. Will needed a trim, his hair was beginning to fuzz, and Hannibal preferred the chocolate curls be springy, silky, rather than fuzzy. He would bring it up tomorrow.

Perhaps I will even tell him the story of Mischa , Hannibal mused. He knew Will quite well by now, but not well enough to know what his reaction would be. He would feel for Hannibal over the deaths of his parents, his sister. But how would he react to the knowledge that Hannibal had murdered a man at the tender age of thirteen? And the fact that Hannibal planned to do the same to his sister's killers, once he tracked them down. He had a few names, memories of when he and Mischa had been held captive for three horrible, freezing weeks.

Perhaps he would be revolted, scared, terrified, Hannibal thought. He scratched at Will's scalp. Will murmured sleepily. Perhaps he would understand. Or, perhaps... perhaps he would join me.

There was darkness in Will. A monster not-yet-formed, not let go, still chained to Will by the younger boy's youth, his inexperience, his inability to truly understand what he had within him.

Maybe Hannibal's confession would lure the monster out.

Hannibal smiled as he imaged Will accompanying him to Lithuania. One of the men who had killed Mischa was a police officer now, had somehow hidden his sordid past to become a respected member of the community. Hannibal would hunt him and gut him and eat him like the pig he was. Hannibal pictured Will there at his side, enjoying the meat over a camp fire, the stars scattered across the sky above.

Will would eat and he'd grin and the two would bask in the glory of their kill.

Together.

Hannibal's smile widened. His thoughts turned decidedly more... vulgar, then. He imaged what he and Will could do in a tent, with one sleeping bag, no school mates to interrupt them, no guardians to stop them until they were older. He grew hard beneath Will's head, but Will slept on, unaware of Hannibal's bodily reactions.

For the best, perhaps. Neither had any experience with sex, and Hannibal saw no reason to rush. He would enjoy having Will pinned beneath him when the time came, though. If Will knew all of his secrets- if he accepted them, embraced them, helped them- well... Hannibal would certainly only stop pleasuring Will for the necessities such as food and rest.

Hannibal leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes. He allowed his mind to wander, used the images of Will in his mind palace to construct his fantasy. Will continued to grunt and mumble in his sleep, but was assuaged by Hannibal's slender fingers running through his hair.

As Hannibal imagined, he briefly thought of his Aunt Murasaki's words; that he had died after his parents and sister had, after whatever trauma had taken Mischa away from him.

Hannibal wondered if he hadn't truly died after all. Perhaps he had just been... reborn. What he was now was far superior to what he had been; Hannibal was not a god, but he was so far above the goldfish of humanity that he might as well be worshipped.

Hannibal grinned, just a little. Yes, he liked the thought of being reborn. Perhaps he could help Will rediscover himself, too. So much fun could be had when you discarded pesky things like morality, after all.

Chapter Text

'Of course he can come with you,' Uncle Robertus said.

'Are you sure?' Hannibal questioned, and not for the first time. He wanted to make sure that his uncle would be okay with it; he didn't want to get Will's hopes up.

'Yes, Hannibal,' the elder Lecter repeated. 'Murasaki has already agreed to watch the both of you. I know that you don't need a sitter, nephew, but she will be in and out of the house with Chiyoh during your stay.'

Hannibal hummed. He was looking forward to seeing his aunt, though he believed that having Will with him in Paris, by his side for their two week break, would be even better. Despite the warm emotions he still felt for Murasaki, she had nothing on Will Graham. Will had become everything.

'Very well,' Hannibal said. 'Thank you, Uncle.'

'Of course,' Robertus said. 'You will both have to fly commercially, Hannibal, but I shall pay for first class tickets. Young Mr Graham should only experience the best during his first trip abroad.'

'Thank you, Uncle,' Hannibal repeated. After a few more words Hannibal hung up and smiled to himself. Now all he had to do was tell Will the good news. He didn't doubt that Will would be excited to learn that they were spending the break together.



{oOo}



Will had been thinking about sex lately. He was aware that it was normal; he was a sixteen-year-old boy, and a lot of sixteen-year-olds thought about sex. Will was surrounded by hormone-filled teenagers almost every day of the year, boys who either got off alone in their dorm rooms at night, with each other, or with the local girls. Will knew that some of the students were dating girls from Mason Lodge, and he didn't doubt that more than a few had “lost their virginity”, as they liked claiming to anyone who would listen.

It just wasn't a subject that Will used to think about all that much. He was different, he was a loner, he didn't think about things like others his age did. Before Hannibal he had never been interested in dating, let alone sex.

But now he had Hannibal, his... friend. That he kissed. Quite often.

Hannibal had never hinted at wanting more from Will. They kissed and they petted, sometimes they laid atop each other when they kissed, though usually it was Hannibal on top, the foreign boy rolling against Will and making lights spark behind his eyes.

He always stopped, though. When their breath grew short, when Will was hot and beginning to sweat, when Will was sure that Hannibal would feel how hard he could get... Hannibal pulled away, wrapped an arm around Will, and held him tight until they went to sleep.

Will knew that some boyfriends had sex. He just wasn't sure if he and Hannibal would ever have sex. They weren't boyfriends, Will knew that for sure. He'd never felt the need to label what he and Hannibal had but now, with all these new thoughts and feelings that Hannibal brought out in him, Will realised that... he did want more. He wanted to call Hannibal his boyfriend and, at some point in the future, possibly have sex with him.

The internet was a big, helpful place, so Will knew (through careful research when he was alone, research that stained his cheeks red and made his trousers feel a tad too tight) that there were many different ways to have sex. And he wanted to have them. With Hannibal and Hannibal only.

Will just wasn't sure how to bring that up with Hannibal. What if Hannibal wasn't interested in sex? Or just not interested in sex with Will? Will could ruin the best, the only, relationship he'd ever had. Just the thought of no longer being able to talk to Hannibal, or kiss him, or cuddle up against him at night, made Will's chest tight and his throat close up.

Will sighed and brushed a hand through his messy curls. He was sitting in one of the gardens that bordered the front gates of Chilton's Academy. It was Saturday, the last weekend before the final weak of school. The next two weeks were the winter break, and then all the boys would return for a few more weeks of class before the longer Christmas holidays started.

Will wasn't sure what he was going to be doing during the two week holiday. He had heard Hannibal mention France, and the older boy had received a letter from his aunt in Paris expressing her interest in having Hannibal spend the holiday in France with her.

So Hannibal would be gone, in France, speaking French and eating the local food and no doubt charming everybody he came into contact with. And Will would be here, at Chilton's, probably alone except for the few boys who would remain behind. Will doubted that his father would bother even sending a letter or a postcard. On Christmas Will would get a phone call from David, or quite possibly a phone call from the man's secretary, expressing David's apologies that he couldn't make it to the phone.

Because he was off with his girlfriend, her daughters, enjoying the holiday with his new family. And Will didn't doubt that at some point Nadia De la Cruz Fernández would become the second Mrs Graham. Will wondered if he'd be invited to the wedding...

Two people walked past the bushes Will was hiding in and after a brief pause he realised that it was Brian Zeller and a girl he hadn't seen before. She was probably a student from the all-girls school, Mason Lodge. The boys from Chilton's Academy usually “hooked up” with the girls from Mason Lodge. According to many of the more popular boys Mason girls were easy. More than once Will had stared at the boy spouting off about what a girl had done to him, his empathy allowing him to read the truth behind the bravado.

Zeller was kissing the girl now, quite enthusiastically, and he had a hand jammed under his tight v-neck t-shirt. Will tilted his head as he stared at them. He wondered if he and Hannibal looked like that when they kissed. Not that Will had ever forced his hand beneath Hannibal's shirt or vice-versa.

Hannibal never pushed their kissing beyond kissing. It always left Will frustrated, though relieved. On some level Will wanted to have sex with Hannibal. For the most part Will was terrified of doing the actual act. He knew little about sex and knew that internet pornography couldn't be trusted to be one-hundred percent factual.

I'm not ready yet, Will thought as he watched Zeller and the girl kiss, but I want to start getting ready. I want Hannibal to want me .

Will sighed. His thoughts were beginning to annoy him and he had nobody to talk to. It wasn't like he could knock on Doctor Bloom's door and express his desire to have sex with Hannibal Lecter. She'd tell Chilton and Will and Hannibal would be separated. Will knew that it had happened before, when two homosexual or curious boys had been roomed together, only to be caught getting cosy under the covers at night. If Will had to bunk with one of the other boys again... he didn't even want to think about it.

'Graham!'

Will looked up and realised that his earlier sigh had alerted Zeller and his female friend that they weren't alone. The girl looked angry but Zeller looked more curious than anything. Zeller could be a dick, but for the most part he was a nice guy.

'What are you doing?' Zeller asked.

'Reading,' Will said and gestured to the book still in his lap. It was Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy , one of Hannibal's favourite works, and he'd convinced Will to give it a read. Will was enjoying it so far.

'You're reading,' Zeller echoed. He raised his eyebrows. 'In the bushes?'

'It's quiet,' Will shrugged.

'Ah, right,' Zeller nodded. Will read the understanding on Zeller's face; the other boy thought that Will was hiding from Tobias Budge and others like him. Will wasn't necessarily hiding ; he just liked being alone and remaining unseen. Besides, Hannibal had gone to the library to finish some homework, and had told Will that he'd then be going to the office to call his uncle. That left Will with some free time to himself. 'You alright?' was Zeller's next question.

Will nodded but closed his book and stood. He'd been found, so he might as well go get some lunch or go back to his and Hannibal's room. He could be alone in their room.

Will jumped down from the low garden wall, landing just before Zeller and the girl. She glared at Will but Will ignored her; it wasn't anything that he wasn't used to.

'Where's your boyfriend?' Zeller asked.

'Hannibal isn't my boyfriend,' Will replied, his tone rather sharp.

Zeller's eyebrows flew back up but he just nodded slowly. Will didn't bother saying anything else; he just turned and walked away. He heard the girl mutter, ''Course he's a faggot,' behind him, and Zeller's half-hearted, 'Hey, don't say that.'

Will ignored them both and continued walking.



{oOo}



Hannibal had thought about sex only when his uncle had sat him down to have “the talk”. It had been more embarrassing for Robertus than for Hannibal, who had simply watched his uncle with raised eyebrows and a slightly bored expression. Hannibal had done his own research after Robertus had left his room, of course; Hannibal had been fascinated with the human body since his first kill.

The internet had been helpful, if crude, and after his research was complete Hannibal had pushed the information to the back of his mind palace. Sex didn't interest him; he had never found himself sexually attracted to another human being. How could he when, for the most part, they were all mindless pigs?

Hannibal had given brief thought to what it would be like to actually experience the act, and the person he had imagined with him had been nameless, faceless, and after his brief ponderings Hannibal had realised that they had been genderless, too.

He had already known he was different; broken, perhaps, at his birth, made more so by what had happened during that cold Lithuanian winter when he had lost Mischa. Asexual, a label Hannibal had found on the internet, didn't seem to fit him, either, for Hannibal was certain that most people did not favour bloody murder over not having sexual relations.

Despite having attended three different all-male boarding schools and hearing what teenaged boys liked to do when the lights were off and they had a sense of privacy, Hannibal still had no interest in sex. Even masturbation seemed like a waste of time. Hannibal had tried it, certainly, but it was something only to do when he was extremely bored and curious.

So, when Hannibal opened the door to his and Will's dorm room, placed his bag down, took his blazer off, and removed his shoes, the first words out of Will's mouth weren't expected;

'Are we ever going to have sex?'

Hannibal raised an eyebrow and turned in time to catch the surprise in Will's own, the flash of fear before he ducked his head. Will's face was a bright pink and it didn't fade when Hannibal sat on his bed across from Will's own.

'Would you like to try again?' Hannibal questioned. 'And, perhaps, add a bit more information?'

'I... I, um...' Will fidgeted with his button-down shirt, the tie crooked and made more so when Will tugged on the end. He murmured something under his breath and squeezed his eyes shut, then reached up to rub them beneath his glasses. 'Sorry,' he mumbled.

'No apologies are necessary, Will,' Hannibal said patiently.

'I didn't, uh... I didn't mean to spring it on you like that,' Will said.

Hannibal tilted his head. 'Yet it has been on your mind?' Will hesitated before nodding. 'Why is that?'

''Cause, um...' Will took a deep breath, let it out, then flicked his eyes up to Hannibal's chin. 'The majority of the school thinks we're dating.'

Hannibal was aware of that. It wasn't only the students, but the teachers, too. Doctor Bloom had nudged at the topic during Hannibal's sessions with her, but Hannibal had either closed up, glared at her, or changed the subject. His and Will's relationship wasn't something he wanted to discuss with Doctor Bloom and so far the woman had respected his boundaries. Whether she continued to do so remained unknown.

'I am aware,' Hannibal finally said.

'Oh,' Will blinked, 'okay.'

'The school's rumours have made you think about sex?' Hannibal asked.

'Sort of?' Will offered, then frowned slightly. 'It's just... I think, uh... I think I'd like to be your boyfriend,' he admitted, his cheeks darkening slightly. 'We've never talked about it, and I was okay with that, but... but now I want to be your boyfriend.' He looked up to meet Hannibal's eyes, and held the contact.

'I see,' Hannibal mused. He wasn't against the idea; he simply hadn't felt the need to label his and Will's relationship. Will belonged to him, and Hannibal belonged to Will; “boyfriend” was such a poor label and failed to encompass what they truly were to each other.

But, Hannibal supposed, it was an appropriate label given their ages and the society they lived in. They were both sixteen, they were seeing each other romantically...

'Very well,' he said, making Will startle, 'if you wish to refer to us as boyfriends, then we shall do so.'

'Really?' Will asked. He looked excited, and Hannibal decided that he'd put up with the juvenile label for Will.

'Yes,' he nodded.

'Okay,' Will said. He smiled and once more played with his tie, rubbing the tip against his thumb. 'So...'

'Your first question,' Hannibal interrupted, '“are we ever going to have sex”. Do you wish to have sex with me, Will?'

Will flushed a truly unappealing shade of red, but Hannibal rather enjoyed the the colour. 'I...' Will trailed off, but then he nodded quite vigorously.

'I see,' Hannibal hummed.

'It's just that... we've kissed,' Will said, 'a lot. And it made me think about sex, 'cause usually that's, you know... where lots of kissing leads.'

'And it is expected from two teenagers in a romantic relationship,' Hannibal said. 'Do you actually wish to have sex, or do you simply think that we should because it's what's expected of us?'

'No!' Will shook his head quickly and scooted across his bed. He didn't stop until his socked feed were on the floor, their knees almost brushing. 'No, I don't think that we should just because we're dating,' he said quickly. 'When we started... kissing, I was happy with what we had. But over time I've realised that I want...'

'More,' Hannibal finished for him.

Will nodded. 'I've never really been, uh... interested in sex,' he admitted. He was still blushing and Hannibal couldn't fight back his smile. 'At least not with... with other people, you know? I've, um... t-touched myself,' he said, eyes on Hannibal's shoulder, 'and I... like it. I've just never felt the desire to have... have sex. Not until...'

'Me,' Hannibal, once again, voiced what Will apparently couldn't. The younger boy nodded and picked at his trousers. 'I see.'

'Is that... something you'd be interested in?' Will asked slowly. 'Because it's okay if you're not! I won't... break up with you or anything of you aren't. I like you. A lot.'

Hannibal smiled at that, very pleased with Will's words. Then he sat back to ponder Will's request, and Will waited silently, eyes skimming the room and Hannibal but never resting on the Lithuanian for long.

The thought of being sexually intimate with Will didn't disgust Hannibal in the slightest. He had been aware of that, of course; he and Will often rubbed against each other, hugged, and Hannibal enjoyed laying atop the other teenager. He also thoroughly enjoyed kissing Will.

To push that further... to remove their clothing, lay skin against skin, explore the very most intimate parts of each other's bodies... the only thing better, Hannibal thought, would be if he could crack Will's skull open and watch Will's thoughts float through the various pathways.

But that, of course, would kill Will; and Hannibal was very much against killing Will Graham.

The thought of sex with others still sounded vile, but with Will? Yes, Hannibal wanted that. He wanted to taste the skin beyond Will's neck; he wanted to feel Will's warm thighs beneath the palms of his hands. He wanted to squeeze Will's backside while he tasted Will's belly, while he inhaled the no-doubt sharp, musky scent of Will's groin.

Yes... Hannibal thought, and then had to adjust his seated position. He didn't want to overwhelm Will with the evidence of his arousal.

'That is something...' Hannibal began, then had to clear his throat when his words came out slightly hoarse, 'that I would... be interested in.'

Will's head shot up. 'Really?'

Hannibal nodded as he said, 'Yes.'

'Are you sure?' Will asked. 'I don't-'

'I'm not saying this just because you want it,' Hannibal interrupted. When Will refused to look at him, Hannibal reached up. He grabbed Will's chin and tilted, forced Will to look him in the eyes. 'I am very interested in having sex with you.'

Will flushed and his eyes darted to the side. 'Okay.'

'You believe me?'

Will tried to nod, then laughed lightly when Hannibal's fingers kept his head still. 'Yeah,' he said. 'I believe you, Hannibal.'

'Very good,' Hannibal said. He released the younger boy and pressed a quick kiss to Will's lips. Will smiled and managed not to flush too horribly, and Hannibal was only mildly disappointed by the pinkness of his cheeks instead of the red of his heavy blushes. 'Now, have you started your homework?'

'What?' Will gaped. 'But... I thought...'

'There's no need for us to begin having sex right now , Will,' Hannibal chastised. 'I would prefer if we both think about it, and about what we want, before we venture any further.'

'Oh... uh, yeah, okay,' Will said. 'I just thought... uh, never mind.'

He jumped to his feet and rushed for his bag, which he'd left on the floor by the door. Hannibal watched him in amusement, then stood to collect his own things. Soon they were both comfortable on Will's bed, books and pens spread around them. Will was leaning heavily against Hannibal's shoulder and Hannibal inhaled deeply, enjoying the scent of Will beneath that of a hard day at school.

Will chuckled but didn't say a word, by now used to Hannibal's oddities.

They worked in silence for twenty minutes before Hannibal remembered his phone call with Uncle Robertus.

'How do you feel about visiting Paris?' he asked.